The Spin (2) (Marcus Stroman)

The Spin (2) (Marcus Stroman)
Age Range
Release Date
August 11, 2023
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In this second book in the semi-autobiographical middle grade series from MLB pitcher Marcus Stroman, young Marcus continues to learn hard lessons on and off the baseball field.

Everyone knows Marcus Stroman as a baseball player. He loves the sport, and yes, he probably has a shot at the pros. But “baseball player” doesn’t totally define him. Why won’t anyone also see him as a basketball player or a musician? While he loves being known for what he does well, he’s struggling because people are trying to limit him to just one thing.

Literally how high up a mountain does Marcus need to climb to be completely free of what everyone else sees? How can he protect himself from the online zings, the chatter, and the opinions? When you walk out on the field or that court, how much criticism is fair play? With some perspective from a new view, Marcus realizes that no matter what field, court, or classroom he’s in, he has to block some shots.

Editor review

1 review
Basketball with Deeper Issues
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Young Marcus dealt with family issues and anxiety in The Grip, and continues on in this new book as the school year progresses. Basketball season is just starting, and Marcus feels that no one takes his interest in basketball seriously, since his father is convinced that he will be a famous baseball player. Coach Fuller believes in him, and he also meets with a mental health coach who helps him cope with his anxiety about sports and life with various mental exercises, as well as understanding his reactions. School work is important to both of his parents, who are divorced, but sometimes it is hard to get everything done as he attends practices and has to go between households. He still practices baseball with his father every morning. He has a new project at school, and his class is learning how to consume news and read articles critically. After Mrs. Tyler puts them through their paces in regards to assessing articles, the class learns that they are going to write a newspaper. There is already a school newspaper, that is printed and given away in the cafeteria, but the students don't always read the articles, except for the interviews with students. Their teacher talks about what their purpose should be, and soon the class is working hard at reporting. Marcus is very careful to make sure he includes the facts, but he feels that an article about his performance in the latest basketball game is unfair. Melanie knows basketball (her father is a coach with a professional team), but he feels that he was quoted out of context, and that she, too, feels he is only good at baseball. It doesn't help that his friend Robbie made an error with the online posting, and comments are enabled. Students say many unkind things about him before the teacher has them disable the comments. The class manages to discuss whether this article was factual and fair, and they do come to some agreements about how news should be reported. Marcus works through his feelings about basketball and baseball with his mental health coach, and is able to talk to his parents about his feelings. A family camping trip with his mom and Sabia helps him clear his mind and focus on his feelings as well.

Good Points
Marcus' concerns with mental health are definitely on trend, and readers who have used the "five senses" focusing technique will find it interesting to see this reflected in a book. I enjoyed the family dynamic, and the description of Marcus and Sabia's schedule going between houses. There are enough basketball and baseball details to keep sports enthusiasts turning the pages. Marcus has some good friends, and is willing to discuss his feelings and how they affect his playing as well as his school work.

Basketball books seem to be more popular than baseball books, so if readers who like basketball can read The Grip, they'll enjoy this sequel. It could also be read alone without too much confusion, since there is a good recap at the beginning. It's a good choice for readers who enjoy sports fiction by actual major league players, like Derek Jeter's The Contract series or the Barbers' The Kickoff.
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